In the early days it was Apple vs. IBM, then Apple vs. Microsoft, then the Mac vs. Windows, then Apple against itself. Steve Jobs returned to save the company and Apple has more enemies than ever. What happened?
The Price Of Success
I cut my Mac teeth in the era of Mac vs. Windows, when Microsoft was still the enemy, and the Mac was just a niche company with a rags to riches to niches history.
As they say, it’s the pioneers that attract the arrows as they move into new territory, but it’s the settlers than get the land and the riches.
Since Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, the company has become both the pioneer and the settler by upending one industry after another.
While I’m not one to believe that corporations are people, I understand the sentiment. If your home is attacked, you’ll do what’s necessary to defend yourself and your belongings.
Corporations, made up of people, react much the same way when their lucrative businesses are under attack. And attack is exactly what Apple does these days, and the company is merciless about controlling conquered territory.
Mac Niche To Profitable Behemoth
While the Mac remained a niche player among personal computer makers, Apple set out on quest for the next great thing. The iPod was born, Mac only, but quickly became the must have portable media player for Windows PC users.
On the heels of that success the iTunes Music Store was born and in quick order Apple destroyed the remnants of portable music player makers, and reshaped the entire recording industry in Apple’s image of easy to use, easy to buy, we get a cut, too.
The recording industry didn’t like being dictated to by Apple and fought back, delivering music libraries to pretty much all comers. That hasn’t met with much success, as Apple remains the dominant media store.
Along came the iPhone with a highly usable, even revolutionary interface, and the entire smartphone industry was upended. Microsoft lumbered along and took years to respond, but Google felt threatened and feared losing advertising revenue and profits to Apple.
Wait! There’s More!
That brought about Android OS, a free smartphone OS for manufacturers to put Google back in control. That hasn’t worked out, but the Android effort altered Apple’s relationship with Google from friend to enemy.
Korean electronics giant Samsung sensed an opportunity to make a public name for itself riding on the Android train (it’s become a gravy train only for Samsung), and copied Apple’s products almost to the atomic level. While Samsung’s smartphone efforts are profitable, Apple’s are many times more, and Samsung is now losing billions of component revenue and profits as Apple ships business to less competitive vendors.
What’s going on?
Apple’s enemies list grew as a direct result of the company’s innovation, quality, and profits. By providing innovative products that customers love, and infusing them with Apple’s famed quality in hardware and software integration, the company reaped the lion’s share of industry profits.
Current estimates show that Apple owns a 70-percent market share of online media sales. A 70-percent share of profits in smartphones and tablets. Even the Mac commands nearly 50-percent of the profits generated by all personal computer manufacturers.
Is it any wonder Apple has a growing list of large, powerful, revenge driven enemies hell bent upon toppling the Apple cart of profits? To Google, Microsoft, Nokia, BlackBerry, Samsung, Amazon, et al, their very survival depends on taking back some of what Apple has earned. Those companies will say anything and do anything– as in lies and illegal tactics– to compete with Apple.
That’s the price of innovation, quality, and profitability in the 21st century.